Three candidates vying for two seats on the BH-BL Board of Education
Residents were able to learn more about the candidates and asked questions at Meet-the-Candidates Night. If you were unable to attend, the event was recorded.
The candidates as they will appear on the ballot:
Jennifer Longtin is seeking her third term on the board where she has served as president, vice president, and finance committee chairperson. During her terms, she has been instrumental in reviewing and revising board policies to better align them with the recommendations from the NYS School Boards Association. Jen also owns Lighthouse Insurance Agency, an independent agency, and Longtin Properties LLC, both of which have operated in Burnt Hills for more than 10 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business management. She and her husband have lived in Ballston Lake for 19 years. They have twins, a son and daughter, in ninth grade at BH-BL High School and a daughter in seventh grade at O’Rourke Middle School. See Jen’s position statement* below.
“One goal one passion—I am running for re-election for my family and
yours because we are in this TOGETHER!
As I finish up my second term on the Board of Education and reflect back over the last six years…my thoughts go to ‘wow’ we sure do have something really special here at BH-BL. We have exceptional teachers and staff who are truly vested in helping all of our students succeed. We have a community that supports our district’s efforts to improve and flourish. And we have visionary leadership that has put us on a pathway toward continued success.
Having three children in the BH-BL school district I have the opportunity
to meet many of our amazing students and their wonderful parents. I also
have the experience of seeing my children and other students flourish as
well as hit a few bumps.
While on the board, I have been instrumental in strongly encouraging communication along with ensuring we provide a safe and nurturing environment that will give our students the foundation they need to thrive and succeed. I’ve also been heavily involved with the Policy Review Committee where I play an integral role in revisiting and revising our current policies.
Our world is changing and we are faced with more challenges every day,
I will continue to be an advocate for our students, teachers and community. I still have the same passion I did six years ago and am excited to do my part in continuing to help guide our district into the future. I pledge to do my best to continue to be an active, engaged school board member working in the best interests of our students, our district and our community.
I am proud to serve our community as a BH-BL Board of Education
member and thank you for your support with my re-election.”
Lee-Ann Mertzlufft is a 14-year resident who is seeking a new term on the board. She previously served on the board from 2010 to 2016. Lee-Ann works for the Albany City Schools as a districtwide Assistive Technology Specialist for Individuals with Disabilities. She holds a BS from SUNY Oswego and a master’s degree from St. Rose. Lee-Ann has experience as a member of the Town of Ballston Ethics Committee and the International Dyslexia Association. She is also a lifetime member of Wilson Reading Academy. In the past, she has served as a Girl Scout leader and earned a Board Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 from the NYS School Boards Association. She has three children—two who graduated from BH-BL and one in seventh grade. See her position statement* below.
“Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is, and has been for the last 104 years, a great district with an abundance of pride and passion for its children and community. It is a place where people choose to live. The dedication of the parents, faculty, support staff, and administrators is the backbone of our community. Yet, life is not simple, nor are the decisions placed before each and every board member. They require care, compassion, and thoughtfulness. Being a Board of Education member is truly not an easy role to fill, but it will be filled, and who you vote for on May 21 will determine the quality of the job that gets done.
Today’s children are our future. Technology is redesigning the human brain starting in infancy, or, I dare say, starting in utero. Thus, how our community chooses to proceed in educating our children is crucial. As a former BOE member, I made every effort to collaborate with all stakeholders, including community members, parents, children, and school personnel. In addition, I tried to balance our community’s educational and social needs with our fiscal realities.
BH-BL is currently a top area district, and that is not by accident. Maintaining our status will take cooperation and engagement from staff and community members. It will require foresight and the ability to look at the entire system while being mindful of the creative, new approaches that are now part of our society whether we like them or not. The composition of the BOE will play a significant role in determining our children’s and community’s future.
As a parent of three daughters, two of whom graduated from BH-BL, and as someone who has served as past BOE president, vice president, and finance chair, I understand from experience how difficult it is to run a top-notch school district. Yet, I believe that my nearly 29 years of experience as a parent, community member, public school teacher, special educator, and business owner has made me aware of the diversity of perspectives in our community, all of which will inform my decisions if the voters grant me the privilege to serve.”
Patrick Ziegler is a 16-year resident who is seeking his second term on the board. He is a volunteer for Junior Achievement and Cents Ability and is a Faith Formation teacher. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus and the University of Albany Alumni Association. Patrick has spent more than 20 years in higher education finance and currently serves as a Market Relationship Manager for Wells Fargo. He holds a BA from Molloy College and a master’s degree from the University of Albany where he is also completing his doctorate work in Educational Leadership & Policy. He and his wife Mary have three children in the district—a junior, an eighth grader, and a third grader at Charlton Heights. See Patrick’s position statement* below.
“John Quincy Adams once said that ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.’ This brief yet powerful definition of leadership certainly speaks to the importance of the work performed by local Boards of Education as our decisions must always be made with that one goal in mind—to help our students dream more, learn more, do more and become more. As I complete my first three-year term as a Board member, I am proud of what we have accomplished but even more pleased with our commitment to servant leadership and open dialogue with all of the stakeholders who care about our community, our schools and our students. In my brief tenure, I have participated in leadership training, served as vice president and finance chair, supported the scheduling of Policy Forums that are open to the public, presided over Board and Committee meetings and helped address parent concerns with district leadership. We successfully concluded a bond referendum last fall that will address a number of critical infrastructure issues including our Transportation Building and our High School auditorium. We have approved fiscally responsible budgets that have kept tax increases below the rate of inflation while not only maintaining but actually expanding educational opportunities for our students and improving school safety and security. And finally, I have recommended that we create a sub-committee to identify opportunities for saving money and increasing revenue as we struggle to replace cuts to our education aid.
To be sure, I remain steadfastly opposed to federal ‘mission creep’ and unfunded state mandates imposed without local input and consultation. The education of our children is and should remain a local responsibility. We can, and will, continue to provide our students with a high-quality education with an extensive array of both academic and extra-curricular opportunities so long as we keep the advice of John Quincy Adams at the forefront of all we do.
We serve and we lead so that others may be more. That sentiment will continue to be at the core of my efforts if elected to a second term.”
* The statements were written by the candidates. The opinions contained within are theirs and may not reflect the opinions or views of BH-BL School District leaders or the Board of Education.